Larian Studios finally released Baldur’s Gate 3 in early access, only twenty years after Baldur’s Gate 2 came out. The early access version contains around 25 hours of gameplay, with the final launch scheduled for next year.
The anticipated sequel takes place in the settings of Faerun, the mythical continent of the Forgotten Realms setting, with rich lore developed over decades. Someone once said that the city of Baldur’s Gate is the Hollywood of Forgotten Realms, as many heroes and gods reside there.
Flay Your Mind
Baldur’s Gate 3 takes place around a hundred years after the events of Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2. A mind flayer (also known as Ilithid) tries to bring his people back to life by kidnapping folks from Baldur’s Gate and turning them into mind flayers. You are one of these unlucky folk.
But your luck turns for the better when the sworn enemies of the mind flayers, the Githyanki, join the party. Riding on red dragons, the Githyanki fight an interdimensional battle with the mind flayer. By the end of the struggle, you find yourself stranded in a sinister dimension, onboard a ship filled with imps, prisoners, and alien creatures. It’s better than being a mind flayer, at least.
From there, the early access version takes on a journey that encapsulates Baldur’s Gate 3’s entire first act. Throughout this journey, we will meet new companions and other heroes of the Forgotten Realms. Yeah, I’m talking about you, Volo.
The game offers a pretty decent character creator that is easy to understand and use to customize an interesting-looking protagonist. We can’t customize the body or clothes, but the face customization is OK and looks good in the cinematics. Right now, there are only six classes and seven races to choose from. However, these numbers should grow significantly until the final release.
The spell selection is also somewhat limited but nice, and the level cap right now is four. Larian Studios aims to increase it all the way to level 10, or a little above that.
So Much Left to Say
Like in any Dungeons and Dragons adventure, the main quest is made of many smaller ones that gradually reveal the big picture, alongside many optional side quests. You will have to choose and take sides in plenty of conflicts, and each choice will impact and changes the plotted course.
But even outside of these quests, Baldur’s Gate 3 is packed with stories, dialogue, destructible environments, and items to interact with.
You will meet many NPCs on your travels. The world is full of humanoids and creatures alike. You can find imps, goblins, and even an Owlbear that nobody knows why it is even a thing. Charisma and social skills will impact your conversations with them, while history and arcana will teach you about your surroundings.
Whenever you prefer, you can set up camp to replenish your resources and, more importantly, converse with your companions. This, too, will provide you with more useful information about them, the world around you, and the events taking place in it. Sometimes, unexpected visitors that are an integral part of the questline you’re on will join you at the camp.
Larian Studios already confirmed that it would be possible to establish relationships with and even romance other characters in future versions.
Roll the Dice
Baldur’s Gate 3 is based entirely on Dungeons and Dragons’ fifth edition. Larian Studios kept the winning formula they introduced in Divinity: Original Sin and added D&D 5e systems and rules (with a few tweaks), mixed with Forgotten Realms’ rich lore.
Combat is divided into rounds, where each character can move and take action. Every class has a set of actions to use in battle, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Attacks and spells require you to roll a 20-sided die and hit the target’s armor class to force it to try and dodge with a counter D20 roll. Everything happens behind the scenes, with the game doing all the calculations to save you time.
There are many modifiers and other parameters to consider, so combat feels tactical, forcing you to prepare and think on each turn. As someone’s who’s not a fan of turn-based action, I have to say the turn-based systems run pretty well and gives you the time you need to understand the mechanics.
Baldur’s Gate 3 combat is challenging and unforgiving. Charging head-on will result in a painful death and a loss of resources. That is why you must always think ahead and skillfully control your party members. Support is more important than in any other RPG I’ve ever played and is often the difference between victory and loading your last save.
Since every role is crucial in battle, it is even more fun to play the multiplayer version with friends. I cannot stress enough how fun Baldur’s Gate 3 is with friends. You have to do it at least once.
When not fighting evil monstrosities, the game runs in real-time, and you can move freely. You can jump, climb, or just sit and admire the view, though different terrains affect your movement speed and options. The entire map is open and available for you to explore without any limitations or other questline restrictions. You are even free to pick up quests without following a linear path.
The Dungeons and Dragons’ mechanics also work great out of combat: Using Charisma to persuade, talking to animals, finding traps, deciphering mysterious symbols, or exploring ruins with your history proficiency. All these skills make a huge difference when you interact with the world. Most of the time, you won’t notice these skill checks, as they take place “behind the scenes.” A skill check usually only becomes apparent when it fails.
20 Years of Anticipation
For early access, Baldur’s Gate 3 offers a fair amount of content and variety right from the start. I did find plenty of glitches, mainly to do with the camera, and it can be annoying sometimes. But in Larian Studios’ defense, they do release hotfixes quickly. In the first week of launch, they sent out three hotfixes, which is a lot.
Oh, and don’t fall in love with your character. The devs said that future updates to Baldur’s Gate 3 might delete your entire progress.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is available on PC only during its early access. Whether it would be available on other platforms as well remains to be seen. We should be getting the full game in 2021. Until then, we will keep you updated about the changes and updates to come.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.